Parcells affair vindicates Giants' Young

On the NFL

February 02, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

When New York Giants general manager George Young was on a talk show after hiring Jim Fassel as his coach last month, he was peppered with the usual questions about why he didn't wait to try to hire Bill Parcells.

Young replied, "I hired the best available coach."

The emphasis was on the word "available."

"I said it five times," Young said last week.

His comments were brushed off. Parcells had been so successful in getting out the message that he was going to be free of his New England Patriots contract at the end of the season that his cheerleaders in the New York media assumed he was going to be available.

The problem was that Parcells signed an amendment to the contract last January that locked him to the Patriots for another year if he wanted to coach in 1997.

It read, "In the event that [Parcells] desires to continue as an NFL head coach or other comparable position after Jan. 31, 1997, and the [Patriots desire to continue to employ Parcells] as its head football coach for an additional year through Jan. 31, 1998, then the parties agreed to extend the employment agreement" through the 1997 season.

Isn't that pretty clear even in legalese? If he wants to coach and the Patriots want him, he has to coach the Patriots in 1997.

That's why Patriots owner Bob Kraft has been saying all year that he still wanted Parcells to coach. Parcells will have to sit out a year if the New York Jets don't make a deal with Kraft.

What's puzzling is why Parcells and his agent, Robert Fraley, thought they could get out of that contract.

Nobody is less surprised by this turn of events than Young. He's seen Parcells try it before.

Parcells took an assistant's job with the Giants in 1979 and quit before training camp. Young -- against his better judgment -- gave Parcells a second chance to become an assistant with the team in 1981.

He then promoted him to head coach in 1983 after Ray Perkins left. Parcells tried to leave after winning Super Bowl XXI, but was bound by his contract to stay. He did quit after winning Super Bowl XXV.

Yet Young was blasted in the New York media for not bringing back Parcells when he hired Dan Reeves in 1993.

And the Parcells fans in the New York media wanted him to wait for Parcells this year, not realizing he wasn't available.

The whole scenario could be viewed as vindication for Young, but he doesn't want to get into that.

"I don't look for vindication," he said. "Don't get me involved in this. The less said the better. It's not my problem."

He's been careful not to criticize Parcells, although he did say, "You have to hire people you can trust. That's very important."

Parcells may have overplayed his hand this time. He's not coming off well. He keeps arguing that if he has to cook the meal, he should be able to shop for the groceries.

Yet he didn't want Terry Glenn, who ended up catching 90 passes. Parcells can cook the meal, but when he goes shopping, he sometimes wants to pass up steak for hamburger.

The result is that even some of his friends in the media finally are knocking Parcells instead of Young.

For example, New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, who wrote a book with Parcells a few years ago, has been a longtime Parcells loyalist and frequent Young basher.

But he wrote two columns last week criticizing Parcells, saying "he looks very bad here" and "if some rich young athlete behaved this way, we would all scream about what has happened to sports."

He also wrote that Parcells can't understand his own contract or has an agent "you wouldn't trust with a house closing. Or selling lemonade at the end of a driveway."

Lombardi sightings

Brett Favre said during Super Bowl week that if he did what Bart Starr did (five titles), he would be bigger than Elvis.

Maybe the Green Bay Packers and their old coach, Vince Lombardi, are becoming the Elvis of pro football.

In Green Bay, they don't have Elvis sightings, they have Lombardi sightings.

A Milwaukee photographer took what seemed to be a routine photo of the buses snaking their way through the crowds during the victory celebration last Monday.

One thing about it wasn't routine.

In the lower right hand corner of the picture, there was a break in the crowd and one man stood by himself with his back to the camera. He had a hat, a tan overcoat with his hands in his pockets.

Where have we seen that before?

Yes, it looked just like Lombardi. Making it even stranger is that no one has come forward to say he was the man in the photo.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay phenomenon continues to surprise even the people in Green Bay.

The crowds at the victory celebration turned out to be larger than the population of Green Bay, which is slightly less than 100,000.

There were so many fans that buses had trouble traveling the parade route and by the time the buses got to Lambeau Field, the ceremony was more than two hours late in starting.

Maybe they can work on the victory celebration next year.

After all, six teams have won back-to-back Super Bowls. That accounts for 12 of the 31 Super Bowl winners.

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